Whooping Cranes

The speaker at the Talbot Bird Club's November Bird Club meeting was Kathy O’Malley, who for many years managed the Crane chick flock at Patuxent Research Refuge. She showed short videos and described her work as part of the program to reestablish a strong population of Whooping Cranes. In 1941 the world’s population of Whoopers was 41 birds. The flock was well known in the winter at Aransas NWR in Texas, but the birds’ destination as they migrated north was unknown until about 1960 when the breeding grounds were found in northern Alberta. The US-Canadian effort to save the species started at Patuxent in 1966 with one bird. The total population is now about 500. A non-migratory flock has been building in Florida since the early 1990s with birds raised at Patuxent. A new migratory flock is building now with chicks hatched at Patuxent and reared in northern Wisconsin. The birds follow an ultralight aircraft to Florida where they winter. These birds now successfully return to Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR. This year’s cohort of young Whoopers left Necedah in mid-October with ETA in Florida of early December. Check their progress plus learn more on: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/crane/index.html

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